This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
KinoCollective’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Escape from New York is another collaboration between Nick Castle and John Carpenter, much like the 1978 film "Halloween". The film was originally written in the mid-1970s after the Watergate scandal, but wasn't made until Halloween proved so successful. Like many Sci-fi films of the 1980s, Carpenter takes the dystopian, dark approach to the future where humankind's problems just get worse. At the time, NY was generally seen as somewhat of a crime-ridden and polluted city, an image that began to change in the mid-1990s, so Carpenter took it to the logical conclusion in his story.
Let me recap the plot: In 1988, the Crime rate in the USA increased 400%. To deal with the rising crime rate, Manhattan was converted into a maximum security prison, with a 50 foot wall surrounding the island, all routes to the outside being dismantled or, if it is a boat route, they are mined and armed helicopters patrol the rivers anyway, and all prisoners inside have life sentences with no way to escape.
9 years later (read: 1997), our main story begins. A war between the USA and the USSR looks like it may turn into a nuclear apocalypse, but the US president has a bargaining chip to create peace between the US, USSR and China: an audiotape explaining how to create Nuclear Fusion to use for power. Unfortunately, his plane (Air force One) is hijacked by terrorists and crashes into New York, but the POTUS used his escape pod to survive (yikes, that's almost too close for comfort nowadays). The President is unfortunately taken Hostage by the Duke of New York, and he will kill him if any rescue attempts are made.
Fortunately, former special forces soldier, world war three veteran and chaotic neutral criminal Snake Plissken has been captured by the US government and given a chance to be pardoned for his crimes if he rescues the president. Snake must break in to the Manhattan Prison, team up with cab driver "Cabbie", his old partner Harold "Brain" Hellman and Harold's wife Maggie in order to save the President from the Duke and his gang. It won't be easy, as New York is full of Career Criminals, Crazies and Cannibals and Snake has been injected with explosives that will go off in 24 hours and only be deactivated if he saves the President.
Snake does so and becomes a free man, but his three allies end up killed in the process. When asking the president how he feels about it, he only offers perfunctory regret. In revenge, Snake switches the president's cassette about Nuclear Fusion with Cabbie's cassette of the song "Bandstand Boogie" and rips the magnetic tape out off the president's cassette. A funny ending to quite a dark but fun movie.
Escape from New York is great, with some good world-building and a setting that seems believable (Even if some parts are now inaccurate, such as the continued existence of the USSR and the use of Cassettes when CDs were invented just a year after the film). The characters, especially Snake, are great and their actors do wonderful jobs at portraying them. The soundtrack is also pretty good and futuristic.
All in all, another Science fiction action classic of the 1980s.
Watch this if you like: The Warriors (1979), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Big Game (2014), Death Proof (2007), The thing (1982), Rio Bravo, Halloween (1978), the fog (1980), Dark Star (1974), Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997), The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Predator (1987), Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome (1985), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), ManBorg (2011), Blade Runner, Children of Men, Twelve Monkeys, A Clockwork Orange, The Fifth Element, Outland, Snow Crash, Land of the Dead, Shadowrun
Reviewed by Carlos
This Review is part of Carlos' Sci-Fi November Series of Reviews